Many times people don’t understand why I work on main idea with my kids. Most teachers think it is strictly a ‘reading’ issue and that the Special Ed teacher or Reading Specialist should work on it. They do, but I address it for a different reason. The main idea is the big picture. If my kids are struggling to figure the what the big picture or main lesson of a paragraph was how are they going to fair in general conversation with their peers or adults? What about when they are able and someone is taking to them about what a potential job entails. If they cannot pick out the main idea, they may miss an opportunity!
When I work on main idea I like to use highlighter tape. Shhhh, it’s my secret weapon! You can watch a short periscope about it HERE. Most kids have never used it other than in my room, so they enjoy it. You can use standard highlighters, this is just a fun alternative. I start with finding the main idea in basic paragraphs. We know the main idea is typically in the first sentence of the paragraph, but not always, so I make my kids read the entire paragraph, out loud, before they tell me what the main idea is and highlight it.
After that, we graduate up to paragraphs in a text. You can use their text book and the highlighter tape ( it peels off and won’t leave marks in the books ) to go through find the main idea of each paragraph. Try finding books or articles with weird facts. I also use these non-fiction paragraphs to start out. Since the topics are different, like Stinky Cheese, it can hold the student’s attention while they read through and practice their skills. These also double for targeting summarizing too! You can find them HERE if you want to check out more pictures and topics.